How Comcast Lost a Customer, Before it Even Had One

imageFive years ago, I “cut the cord” and decided never to do business with Comcast ever again.  While I don’t recall the exact circumstances that led me to cancel Comcast, I do remember a week long stretch without any internet or TV service.  I actually remember laughing when the customer service representative tried to talk me into ordering phone service, right after telling me that the earliest appointment time to have a technician fix the cable was in a week or two.

I purchased a DTV antenna, and to my surprise, it turns out that the over-the-air digital TV signal in my area is pretty darn good.  I also bought a Netflix subscription, and later an Apple TV.

Everything was good, for five years.  But time has a way of washing away bad memories.

Sometimes, Cheap Isn’t Worth It.

Roughly four weeks ago, I saw a promotion featuring “Blast” internet service and digital cable.  For less than I’m paying for naked DSL, I could have 50mbps and cable TV.  A chat window popped up and a somewhat pushy and annoying customer service representative “helped” me order and schedule the installation appointment. 

And by “helped,” I mean slowly answering my questions and asking me if I was done yet.  Comcast obviously has their own definition of helpful.

Within a week, I started getting hang up calls on my cell phone.  I called the phone number back only to be told that they were calling (and hanging up) to offer me a self-install kit.  They would ship out the modem and cable box, waive the installation fee, cancel the installation appointment, and I’d be up and running in minutes.  It was a win-win situation, so I agreed.

Imagine my surprise when the day before the installer was originally scheduled to arrive, there is no package and I get a confirmation email reminding me that a cable technician would be arriving at my home.

Confused, I called Comcast and learned that the original installation order was never cancelled.  Moreover, I also learned that the self-installation kit was never shipped.  The customer service representative couldn’t cancel the self-install kit, but could cancel the installer appointment.  He suggested that we cancel the installation appointment and the package should arrive “in a few days.”

Several days later, I came home to find a big box on my doorstep. I immediately opened the box, and started pawing through the contents.  What I saw was disappointing. 

While everything was wrapped in plastic, and they had gone to great lengths to make it appear as if it was new, it wasn’t.  The cable box was obviously very old and very used.  No HDMI outputs.  I smelled the faint smell of stale cigarettes.  The unit, a Motorola DCT2244 was discontinued long ago, and if I read the date code correctly, it was manufactured in 2000.  That was fourteen years ago.

As an aside, these cable boxes lease for $8 a month.  14 years * $8/month = $1,344.00.  It’s no wonder why they want to keep sending them to customers.

I plugged in the cable box and started to activate the service online, but couldn’t.  Notice the screen shot, and the lack of a phone number.  I tried again in a different browser and a phone number magically appeared.

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I called the activation number and robotic voice patiently prompted me to enter my information.  The cable box clicked and shut down.  I wondered if it died.

I turned the cable box back on and we had cable.   That is when I noticed that the box was defective.  The picture was blurry, and when I changed channels, the picture rolled over and would finally sync after a second.  When I turned the cable box off, audio still played on the TV.  I had been given a defective cable box that someone had replaced.

As I started sifting through the channels, I noticed that we basically had the same local channels that we had with the antenna, and Bravo.  Just about every other channel said “Not Authorized.”

I started to regret my decision.

“You shouldn’t even have service.”

But wait, my adventure was just beginning. 

On Wednesday, I received an automated call from “Equipment Recovery Services” saying that I should return my cable equipment.

That was the weirdest telemarketing call I have ever gotten.

My phone rang again, and this time it was Sean from Comcast asking about my order, seeing that my order was cancelled he decided to call me.  After I expressed my frustration with Comcast, he talked me into upgrading the cable box and upsold me into another service tier.  He said he would call me back. 

When I arrived home, there was no cable.

I called Comcast and was connected to technical support.  After hard hitting questions like “what does your cable box look like?” and “is the cable plugged in?”  The CSR was able to reset the TAP and reactivate service.  He stated that an installer was supposed to arrive between 6pm – 9pm that night.  (no one showed up).

The next day, I received an email from Comcast stating that a technician was going to arrive that day.  Given that my wife and I would be at work, I called to cancel the appointment.

That’s when the customer service representative told me that there were two installation orders outstanding and she couldn’t close them out.  I was told I shouldn’t even have service. 

My phone rang a few hours later; it was Equipment Recovery Services robotically telling me to return my equipment.  I called back and they “made a note” on my account that I was using it.

How on earth does this company stay in business?

When I arrived home, the cable was dead.  Again.  I unhooked the cable box and plugged the antenna back in.  My wife and I watched Big Bang Theory via the Apple TV.

I can’t take anymore.  I give up.  The great cable experiment of 2014 was officially over.

When I awoke Friday morning, Sean from Comcast called again.  I told him I wasn’t interested.  I would pack up the equipment and take it to an Xfinity service center and give it back.  And that is just what I did.